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“What I've come to learn is that the world is never saved in grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible acts of compassion.”
Chris Abani
“What I've come to learn is that the world is never saved in grand messianic gestures, but in the simple accumulation of gentle, soft, almost invisible acts of compassion, everyday acts of compassion. In South Africa they have a phrase called ubuntu. Ubuntu comes out of a philosophy that says, the only way for me to be human is for you to reflect my humanity back at me. ”
Chris Abani
“You know, you can steel your heart against any kind of trouble, any kind of horror. But the simple act of kindness from a complete stranger will unstitch you.”
Chris Abani
“The question is, how do I balance narratives that are wonderful with narratives of wounds and self-loathing? And this is the difficulty that I face. I am trying to move beyond political rhetoric to a place of ethical questioning. I am asking us to balance the idea of our complete vulnerability with the complete notion of transformation or what is possible.”
Chris Abani
“The wind is calling in a voice I remember”
Chris Abani, Song for Night
“Sometimes it is enough to know that it is difficult.”
Chris Abani
“We are hunting the demons that haunt others. We get a smell and off we go. And you know why, Sunil? You know why we are so good at hunting the demons of others? Because we are so good, gifted even, at stalking and evading our own. But all demons hunters think that they are really heroes, and you know what all heroes need?”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“But the thing is that, in the end, we each must decide how comfortable we are with how much we hurt other people”
Chris Abani, The Face: Cartography of the Void
tags: hurt
“This is the prevalence of ritual. To remember something that cannot be forgotten.”
Chris Abani, Becoming Abigail
“Listening to the clack clack of the pal fronds form a percussive background to the oboe throb of the sea, he dozed off. An hour later, he woke with a start and, standing up, dusted off the seat of his trousers. White sand, in fine glittering silicon chips, clung to him, catching the sun, turning him into a patchwork fabric of diamonds and ebony.”
Chris Abani, GraceLand
“Abigail read in Reader’s Digest that all plane landings were controlled crashes. Like the way we live our lives, she thought. Bumble through doing the best we can and hoping that some benevolence keeps us from crashing.”
Chris Abani, Becoming Abigail
“She who had been taken and taken and taken. And now the one time she took for herself, the one time she had choice in the matter, it was taken away.”
Chris Abani, Becoming Abigail
“If you want to know about Africa, read our literature -- and not just 'Things Fall Apart,' because that would be like saying, 'I've read 'Gone with the Wind' and so I know everything about America.”
Chris Abani
“Story is powerful. Story is fluid and it belongs to nobody.”
Chris Abani
“When I was 10, I read James Baldwin's 'Another Country,' and that book broke me. Not because I was encountering homosexual sex and love for the first time, but because the way James wrote about it made it impossible for me to attach otherness to it. 'Here,' Jimmy said. 'Here is love, all of it.”
Chris Abani
“My friend Ronald Gottesman says...that the cause of all our trouble is the belief in an essential, pure identity: religious, ethnic, historical, ideological.”
Chris Abani
“circles of hell. He hated to admit it, but Eugene had been right in his choice of Inferno, except their interpretations differed. Where Eugene saw only the internal battle of the privileged soul, Sunil saw the entire architecture and structures of racism and apartheid: three concentric circles of life and economics. Color-coded circles for easy understanding, whites at the heart, coloreds at the next remove, and finally, the blacks at the outermost circle; the closest to hell—the strange inverse sense of apartheid.”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“What you hear is not my voice.
I have not spoken in three years: not since I left boot camp. It has been three years of a senseless war, and though the reasons for it are clear, and though we will continue to fight until we are ordered to stop-and probably for a while after that-none of us can remember the hate that led us here. We are simply fighting to survive the war. It is a strange place to be at fifteen, bereft of hope and very nearly of your humanity. But that is where I am nonetheless.”
Chris Abani, Song for Night
“He knew that scar, that pain, that shame, that degradation that no metaphor could contain, inscribing it on his body. And yet beyond that, he was that scar, carved by hate and smallness and fear onto the world's face. He and everyone like him, until the earth was aflame with scarred black men dying in trees of fire.”
Chris Abani, GraceLand
“Thoughts of Abigail filled her world. By all accounts she had bee a tall, thin, woman, whose eyes held a power beyond the black pools of er irises. Tall, thin, and dark, she, this Abigail, looked so much like the other that her father had named her the same She was more ghost than her mother, however, moving with the quality of light breathing though a house in which the only footprints in the dust were those of her dead mother. Even her laughter, at once wild and reigned in, was all Abigail.”
Chris Abani, Becoming Abigail
“There had been many such experiments when he worked in South Africa, in Vlakplaas, a notorious apartheid death camp.”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“He too, it seemed, had come to believe that he could somehow escape history. That it was possible, and even desirable, to live in a perpetual present.”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“as his mother told Grandma Marie, there are no words for some”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“... it's the agents of our imagination who really shape who we are.”
Chris Abani
“Something that had the quality of a dimly lit stage set just before the curtains rise on opening night. There was a rhythm to it, a beckoning, and a bittersweet tear in time.”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“Circuses are about entertainment and juggling and animals and all that shit. Sideshows are about freaks, about people and the limits of acceptability. We push those limits. If a circus is an escape, Fire said, a sideshow is a confrontation.”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“Time was the only variable in every equation of power and oppression-how long before the pot boiled over.”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“Do you think anything ever changes, Salazar asked. That we can make a difference? That we will become a better species? I don’t know, I’m not sure if it even matters. I think all that matters is that we don’t shrink away from the truth and that we keep trying, Sunil said. I like that. Push the stone up the fucking hill because we should. Yes,”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“I would say it is because the striving and the power keep you from realizing just how helpless you really are. It protects you from facing the fact that others are manipulating you, that regardless of what you might claim, your philosophy is simply a way to rationalize what you do for others too afraid to do their own dirty work; that you are in a way also a victim of the apartheid state. You”
Chris Abani, The Secret History of Las Vegas
“The art is never about what you write about. The art is about how you write about what you write about.”
Chris Abani

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